Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories by Otto Penzler


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Presenting Edgar Award-winning editor Otto Penzler's latest anthology, The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories, the largest collection of Sherlockian tales ever assembled—now in a deluxe hardcover edition, perfect for the collector and gift markets.
Arguably no other character in history has been so enduringly popular as Sherlock Holmes. From his first appearance, in Arthur Conan Doyle's 1887 novella A Study in Scarlet,readers have loved reading about him—and writers have loved writing about him. Here, Otto Penzler collects 83 wonderful stories about Holmes and Dr. John Watson, the majority of which will be new to readers. Among these pages are tales by acclaimed Sherlockians Leslie S. Klinger, Laurie R. King, Lyndsay Faye and Daniel Stashower; pastiches by literary luminaries both classic (Kenneth Millar, P. G. Wodehouse, Dorothy B. Hughes) and current (Anne Perry, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman); and parodies by Conan Doyle's contemporaries James M. Barrie, O. Henry, and August Derleth.

MY TAKE:
At over 1,000 pages, this is by far the biggest collection of Sherlock Holmes stories I have ever read.

The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories contains stories written by various authors that feature Sherlock Holmes and/or Dr. Watson. The stories range from the more serious to parodies.

The great thing about books like these are the fact that because there are so many stories to choose from, you're bound to find something you like.

The most memorable stories for me are The Doctor's Case by Stephen King and The Martian Crown Jewels by Poul Anderson. The Doctor's Case is a locked-room mystery, that had an interesting and perfect resolution, while The Martian Crown Jewels features a Martian Sherlock Holmes. I found the latter very imaginative, while the former left me empathizing with Watson and the other characters in the story.

There are plenty of other gems here, of course. The stories are divided into sections, which are explained at the beginning of the book. These are: The Master (parodies written by Arthur Conan Doyle), Familiar as the Rose in Spring (most popular and oft-reprinted Sherlock Holmes stories), The Literature of Crime (written by well-known authors), In the Beginning (parodies written during the 19th century), Holmesless (Sherlock Holmes doesn't actually appear in the story), Not of this Place (the story takes place in a different place/era than usual), Keeping the Memory Green (written by well-respected people from non-writing professions), You Think That's Funny (parodies), Contemporary Victorians (written by modern writers), and The Footsteps of a Gigantic Author (written by mystery writers from long ago).

Of these sections, the one that contained the most number of excellent stories for me was the Contemporary Victorians. Some of my favorites from this section were: A Case of Mis-Identity by Colin Dexter, The Adventure of Zolnay, the Aerialist by Rock Boyer, and The Startling Events in the Electrified City by Thomas Perry. The last story put Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson into real-life events, and made it seem plausible that they influenced these events somehow and that what we know to be true may not be correct at all.

As for the parodies were mostly not my cup of tea, although there were a couple or so that made me laugh.

My only trouble with reviewing this book, really, is the length. If this is something you bought at a bookstore, this book is well-worth the money because there are lots of stories and most of them are quite excellent. However, since I was reviewing this book, I felt the pressure to finish it right away. This diminished my enjoyment of the book a little bit. That said, if this is something you plan on reading in your spare time and in small chunks at a time, it's absolutely a good buy.

Thanks to NetGalley and Vintage for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are plenty of excellent stories.
  2. There's something for everyone.
  3. It's actually pretty cheap, considering the amount of stories included. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some stories are not as memorable or well-written as the others.   

READ IT IF:

  1. If you love pastiches.
  2. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan.
  3. If you're experiencing Sherlock or Elementary withdrawal.

RATING:
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